Yesterday’s CBS Sunday Morning program had a nice segment on Norman Rockwell, in particular the Steven Spielberg and George Lucas private collections that are now on exhibit at the Smithsonian, and how these two giants of film were so greatly influenced by his paintings. For those of us that grew up seeing his illustrations almost every day on the covers of Look and the Saturday Evening Post, in uncounted ads or on every new Brown and Bigelow calendar hung in our kitchen, Rockwell was a part of our life that we pretty much took for granted. Only now, after being in the “business” and watching the world of illustration change do I really understand what a treasure he was.
Even though he considered himself a commercial illustrator rather than an artist, he was an absolute perfectionist when it came to his work. It is fascinating to learn how meticulous he was about his art, staging scenes over and over and over again to tell – perfectly – the story in a snapshot, and then painting them with a level of skill so rarely achieved in our industry anymore. There are many valuable lessons to be learned from his career – not only about his ability to find and convey the emotion in every piece, but also in how he was able to continue to connect with such a wide audience for so many years.